Personal Interpretation: Emphasize that history is a collection of perspectives. Encourage students to write their personal interpretation after analyzing the primary sources. Why was the U.S. policy of containment a good or bad idea?
Rival Alliances: Students will read aloud as a group “The Cold War and a Divided World” from the textbook (pages 479-480). Then discuss the military alliances that the Soviet Union and United States organized at the beginning of the Cold War. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was an alliance between the United States, Canada, and ten Western European nations, whereas the Warsaw Pact was a similar alliance between the Soviet Union and its satellite nations in the Eastern Bloc.
Nuclear Threat: Discuss as a class the use of an atomic bomb by the United States in 1945. The Soviet Union then detonated its own atomic weapon in 1949. President Truman was determined to develop an even more powerful weapon and authorized work on a thermonuclear weapon in 1950. This H-Bomb was a thousand times more powerful than the A-Bomb. Watch the actual First H-Bomb Test (2:18) in 1952. In 1953, the Soviets also tested a thermonuclear weapon. Watch the detonation of the Tsar Bomb (3:11) in 1961 to illustrate nuclear escalation. Explain the term “brinkmanship” describes the superpowers’ willingness to go to the brink, or edge, of nuclear war to force the other to back down.
Cold War in the Skies: Explain how the Cold War also affected the science and education programs of the two superpowers. In 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik 1, the first satellite to orbit Earth. President Eisenhower proposed an “open skies” policy, which the Soviets rejected. Consequently, the U.S. CIA agency sent spy planes into Soviet territory. The U-2 Incident occurred when a spy plane was shot down and the American pilot imprisoned for 19 months by the Soviets. Emphasize that this incident heightened the tension between the two superpowers.
Write a ½-page response to the use of brinkmanship and stockpiling of nuclear weapons by both the U.S. and the USSR during the Cold War.